Stefanie Lueck is a world traveler and painter based in Rosengarten/Hamburg, Germany. Her love of different cultures and storytelling is reflected in her colourful and dynamic paintings and collages, which are created using acrylic painting and photoshop. We sit down with Stefanie today to discuss her Art journey.
Hi Stefanie! Hope you’re doing well. From what we understand, despite receiving your formal education in Germany, you also studied in London. Were you influenced in any way by the British arts scene, and how would you compare London to German cities such as Berlin and Hamburg?
I certainly was influenced by the British art scene at the time, especially by the British artists who were my tutors and fellow students in London. The biggest influence from my time in London was the openness to mixed medias. During my time in London I learned photography, I tried working with wood and steel, and was allowed and in fact encouraged to try whatever came to my mind: the foundation for the mix of photography and painting in my work for sure comes from my time in London.
I always find it hard to compare the cities, since I’m aware that I’m always looking through a very personal perspective. From that perspective, I found the British art scene to be a more experimental one, and in London I felt a stronger sense of interest to mingle with other creative medias such as design, theater and the like. I also found that the British art scene is influenced by the British music scene, whilst Hamburg for example has a stronger influence from press media and professional photography. In general I found that in Germany there was a stronger focus on finding your media, sticking to it and being serious about it, whilst in Britain or at least in London I noticed a more playful and humorous sense of many artists. I find benefits in both, also I have to say I loved and still love the British sense of humor.
You talk about memories of your mother reciting poetry to you as a child, and exposure to different cultures, stories and art thanks to your parents, which has had a profound impact on your art. Do you recall any of these stories or poems which stuck with you in particular, or a certain trip with your parents that you remember above the rest?
My strongest memory of a poem or actually a poet is the German poet Joachim Ringelnatz. I loved the humor in his poems and still do. If you haven’t read any of his, I can highly recommend reading some of his work. I found a pretty good translation into English of my favorite:
I Love You So
I love you so!
I would, without any regret
Give you a mattress spring
Of my bed.
I’ve not been untrue
Now I am quite low.
Aslant of the railroad berm new
Yellow the gorse bushes glow.
Past, gone without woe
Though never forgotten.
Long lasting things are slow
The living breed.
A dog growls.
He cannot read.
He cannot write
We cannot sit tight.
Caviar is an epitaph
On sturgeon’s roe.
I love you so.
I do remember one of the aforementioned trips to southern Spain; our car broke and we got stuck somewhere in the middle of France, in a small village. The village was full of old men smoking cigars, playing petanque and mumbling in French, which I could not understand – and I felt like I was catapulted into a strange type of dangerous troll-like world, not sure if I should be scared or fascinated. I had very vivid fantasies as a kid, and my world was always full of strange animals or monsters and heroes, which only I could see. This small village in France was like fuel to my already-existing inner worlds.
It is noted that you are a traveler, and your love of different cultures can be seen in your artwork. Do you draw on your own specific personal experiences and places you’ve visited when painting?
Yes, mostly I do. My experiences in different countries shaped my view on the world and on different cultures and religions. E.g. I remember I had just finished University and my parents, my sister and I went for a family adventure to Yemen. I did have a lot of prejudices against the muslim faith and I’m still thankful and humble in the face of the experience I had. To summarise, we were invited into some people’s homes and had the chance to spend time with people on a very personal level and I was so taken by the openness, friendliness and happiness in people, which I hadn’t expected. It’s a very different culture in which given my upbringing, I would not want to live in, but it became so obvious to me that different, is just different, not better or worse. Looking with an open heart and mind instead through my prejudices, I found humanity and amazing beauty in the people and the culture. Which is true for every country I’ve been to.
So yes, interactions with people do inspire my art as much as the stories they tell and their culture and art, like the amazing colors in India or the most beautiful patterns and ornaments in Yemen or Myanmar, the light in south France or the architecture in Brooklyn. Just to name a few.
Also, as stated before, I did have and still do have a very vivid and lively imagination, so sometimes fantasy movies and books or family and friends travel stories feel so real to me that they also inspire my work.
What inspires you to create, and what do you wish to communicate to the audience through your creative work?
For a good chunk of my life I never reflected on what inspires me to create, as far as I remember I always did create something – in one form or another. It’s simply my natural way of expressing myself in the world. And being a very curious person who loves to learn, I dabbled in a lot of different types of art and design until a few years ago, when I had the strong urge to focus and share the experiences from my travels and interactions with different cultures with the world through my art.
I wish to communicate to my audience to look out and discover, that even in these crazy times, there is always unexpected beauty in the world. I wish to create awareness and respect for nature and different cultures, to open up people’s hearts and minds, so they can question their point of view, broaden their horizons and appreciate the world around them.
And to follow on from the previous question, what is one thing that you hope people will take away from your artwork?
One thing I hope people will take away from my artwork is compassion for themselves and for others who might seem ‘different’ and ‘strange’ to them.
Have you worked with artistic mediums other than paint?
Yes, obviously with photography and Photoshop, which is a part of my current work, and also I love to just draw. I’ve briefly worked with wood and steel, and I’ve done work with collages and fabric. I love everything fabric – it’s not part of my current work, but I might delve into it again.
Is there a figure who has been influential in your artistic development in particular?
Per Kirkeby and Bruce McLean, who were my tutors in university, and who are probably known primarily for their paintings, but both worked with other medias, encouraged my natural curiosity and joy of experimenting.
Secondly, my dear friends Ariel and Shya Kane, who lead transformational seminars and deeply influenced my life, including my artistic development.
What is a good piece of advice you’d give to young artists?
Be curious, learn from others and always trust yourself and your intuition.
Did the pandemic shape your creativity in any way? If so, how?
Not much – the lockdown happened at a point in my life where I had decided to retreat from the outside world (as in art shows for instance…), and work on a new series for a few months, so I did what I had planned on anyway! I do believe though that the lockdowns meant that I could just work without having to worry about the next show and sell… and a lot of contact and social interactions I had simply happened via zoom, which kept me sane.
From what we understand, you live in Hamburg, Germany. Is there any element of the city that inspires you, or which you think comes through in your work?
Water. Water is my favorite element and always has been. When I moved back north from Frankfurt, Hamburg was the most obvious choice: with the abundance of water in the city, the Baltic and the North Sea being close, and I just love the people here. But water is the key element inspired by Hamburg that comes through often in my work.
You have exhibited your work in both Europe and the United States, and your paintings can be found in private collections in Hamburg, London, and New York. Is there a particular milestone in your career that really shone for you, such as an exhibition or event that you were part of which changed your life?
Actually a small art fair in the northern part of Germany did. It wasn’t so much the show itself, as it was the atmosphere. I hadn’t been showing my work for many years, due to mostly working as a designer in various fields for some years, and after cutting down design clients and working more in my studio, this was my first show in which I showcased my new pieces of work. Besides good responses, being around other artists and talking to people about art, my whole world lit up, and at the risk of sounding pathetic, it felt like coming home. So after the show, I decided to find other designers to take over my clients and went back to work full time on my art. I loved working as a designer, and some elements of it, such as my photoshop skills, still integrate in my art today. But going back to art fully at that time, was a perfect choice.
Discover more at www.stefanielueck.com or on Instagram at @stefanielueckart